Well, I am a little annoyed. I feel as though I have been patted on the head by a teacher who actually doesn’t understand the issue at hand. Or perhaps is trying to avoid the issue.
At the last meeting of Council the proposed water rates, applicable for the next decade, were approved. I’m okay with that. There is a price increase, but it is not too onerous and at least I can afford it. What annoyed me was the statement that the consultants did a sensitivity analysis on the rates based on comments received and estimated that the possible difference amounted to a $3 or $4 a year cost reduction for the average residential customer. They stressed the forecast by increasing the number of new accounts annually from 3 to 20 connections. What wasn’t provided in the council minutes was how that impacted water consumption. If the Report now estimates that consumption will increase by 0.6% over the next decade, it suggests the ‘high connection’ forecast figure is a 4% increase over the same period.
Well, let’s take a look at the history of the Town of Parry Sound water consumption over the past eight years, 2011 to 2019. (Staff, don’t you just hate it when taxpayers save old reports?) The increase over that period was 17.4%, from 160,222,866 to 188,077,355 Imperial Gallons.
It’s interesting to note that in the 2012 report by the same consultants it was stated – “Factoring in potential for further conservation of this period, no consumption growth has been assumed in the forecast.” I guess they that feel if they fooled us once they can get away with it again. Or perhaps they aren’t paying sufficient attention. Or these are the number that Staff wanted them to use.
So, in the past nine years the Town saw an increase in water consumption of 17.4% with a forecast of 0%, for the next decade we are to believe that consumption will only go up by 0.6%, or 4% in the ‘high connection’ scenario?
At the most recent council meeting Mayor McGarvey announced the following progress in 2020:
112 building permits issued
16 new residential units
4 commercial units
1 Best Western Plus hotel
That’s one year of development, and all of that development will be part of the coming decade’s water forecast.
Given the very obvious population migration north and the Town’s hot real estate market do you really think we will be seeing a development depression for the remaining nine years?
I call BS on Town Staff for the report and water rate recommendation. They are sandbagging and covering their asses. While there is nothing wrong with using a pessimistic, and arguably unrealistic, estimate of future water consumption growth, that scenario needs to clearly stated. But, explaining that the scenario was unreasonably pessimistic, and that proposed rates are probably higher than they need to be, would take courage because water customers would complain. It’s so much easier to pretend that the low growth numbers are ‘reasonable’ and avoid any complaints about the rates by stating something to the effect of ‘the rates fall out of the forecast costs and revenues’.
A question – is there any chance the Town of Parry Sound taxpayers will see the 2021 draft budget before it is approved?
A remembrance – Trevor, Christine, Brenda, I miss the courage and transparency you provided.
A reality – ignore me, but don’t try patting me on the head. I might bite.